One of the reasons given byAbuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC)for the collapse of athree-storey building belonging to Harmonia Hotels is hoarding of premises.
Harmonia Hotels, situated on Plot No. 896, Onitsha Crescent, Cadastral Zone A03, Garki, Abuja collapsed early hours of Tuesday. Luckily, casualties were not reported.
A source said squatters who were in the building heard some strange sound in the night and moved out of the facility. The building fell down in the early hours of Tuesday.
The structure initially belonging to former Kogi State governor, the late Abubakar Audu was said to have been sold to an undisclosed person. The new owner shut the facility for rehabilitation.
Curiously, while works were ongoing, the premises were completely fenced high with corrugated iron sheets. The fence was more than three meters high. Passersby always wondered what might be the motive behind this.
It is not clear what authorities’ reaction to this unusual fencing of premises was. However, when the building collapsed, the coordinator of AMMC Umar Shuaibu said, “The developer hoarded the premises to prevent access and conceal[ed] the ongoing works.”
According to the coordinator, authorities became aware of the developmental activities on the property during routine monitoring exercise on February 11, 2019. They were made to believe that the building was undergoing only minor redecoration works like replacement of doors, windows, floor tiles and wall tiles in the toilet. The developer claimed he was replacing plumbing pipes, repainting walls and cladding using Alumo bond panels. All this is considered minor repairs so the developer was duly issued redecoration order.
But unknown to authorities, the developer was doing major works. Investigations by the Development Control Department showed that the developer had gone beyond the scope of works detailed in the redecoration order issued to him. According to Shuaibu, the developer excavated column bases for erection of unapproved structure. He also decommissioned part of the existing building thereby affecting the structural components of the building.
The question therefore, is why would the Development Control Department with staff all over the city, and as the approving authority for that matter not know that its directives were flouted on these premises?
The coordinator of AMMC claimed authorities could not detect the problem because the premises were hoarded. Even so, it could be argued, hasn’t the Development Control Department’s staff access to any site even fenced in whatever way?
In any case, Viewpoint Housing News is of the view that hoarding of premises can pose many problems so it should be tackled with the seriousness it deserves. This Harmonia Hotels incident should serve as a wake-up call for authorities to rise up and complete the task they started in 2017.In 2007, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) issued a directive that fences around residences and other buildings in FCT should be only 1.5 meters high. It directed that one meter from ground could be block while the half meter on top could be grill. Many fences that did not comply were pulled down.
Before then, property owners would erect fences more than three meters high.Hoarding of premises is rampant in many Nigerian cities.In fact, in many cities in Nigeria, it is common to see premises fenced very high with block/concrete walls. Many, in addition to the concrete walls use razor wire or electric wire on top.
They argue that this is necessary for security and safety of lives and property from unwanted sights, trespass and assaults. According to them, high fences provide secrecy, comfort and luxury.
The implications for this are far reaching. Apart from restraining fresh air (which poses a health problem), activities on the premises are shielded from the public view (which could be security problem if activities are injurious to safety). High fences also cover the style and aesthetics of buildings which constitute a city’s outlook.
Some seemingly comply by building one meter concrete but still use non transparent material(s) to cover the upper half meter. This should stop. Use of razor wire gives the image of imprisonment so those who use it should have a second thought.
Elsewhere, there are no concrete fences and grills. We should learn to use hedges to demarcate our premises. This gives more beauty. Similarly, developers should realise that keeping the fence low is cute and gives better health and even helps us secure our property better. Nobody knows what evil is done in a totally fenced premises. Criminals can lurk around and do all they can do.
More importantly, government should not relent in its mission of pulling down walls that contravene standards. Keeping the rules should be pursued with vigour. It is the surest way to putting an end to incidents like the one reported on the premises of Harmonia Hotels and many more.